18 Jun 2019

Spoke rulers

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I own a few spoke rulers. You’d think they’re all the same and mostly they are.

My daily driver is the Sapim ruler (pictured far left) because I’m a Sapim dealer and that keeps everything in the family. It does its job very well. It also tries to be a spoke diameter gauge but isn’t as successful. The purple Pi ruler, next in line, is pretty novel with its center channel for aligning the spoke. This helps measuring used spokes, which are never straight. I like that it’s marked in half millimetre increments although the bright finish detracts from legibility. The Phil Wood ruler is heavy in a good way and pleasing to use. It has the best spoke diameter gauge although 2.2mm is conspicuously missing. The Cyclus and Park Tool rulers are similar, however Cyclus gets extra marks for putting its graduations on the spoke path. The VAR ruler is similar but adds nipple measurement, which is clever and useful. The DT Swiss ruler doesn’t feel like a real tool. The Unior ruler is on the same level as Park, which means good enough. The Filzer tool on the end is conspicuously similar to the Unior tool — since Filzer is a marketing company we can probably guess who made their tool.

Check my Instagram before Friday afternoon if you’d like to win a Pi spoke ruler!

09 Jun 2019

Recent DT Swiss builds

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In the last little while I’ve done a couple wheelsets using DT Swiss hubs and rims. In both cases the hubs and rims were ordered from www.bike24.com with delivery to SpokeService HQ, where I put them together using spokes from my inventory. The result is great wheels with global parts pricing. Both sets use DT 350 hubs; one rider selected R470db rims while the other chose RR521db rims. If you’re thinking about building a set of wheels yourself, I can testify these rims make the work painless.

19 May 2019

Recommended parts

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If you’re after new wheels but need advice on parts selection, these brands have become popular with SpokeService customers thanks to good value, good performance and low failure rates — good outcomes! The following lists divide hubs and rims into different price brackets. Any of these products can make great wheels but the more expensive versions often have more machining time or finer materials, which reduce weight. None of these are economy products, however.

Except those brands marked with an asterisk, most products listed are not sold here.

Mid-priced hubs

Mid-priced rims

Top priced hubs

Top priced rims

  • HED
  • Light-Bicycle
  • Nextie

For pricing on products marked with an asterisk, please email.

03 May 2019

Silver revival

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Pictured below are two wheelsets built with 650b Pacenti Brevet rims, one built in March and another more recently. I was happy with the steadiness of the rims and would recommend them if they meet your needs. The first set uses Campagnolo hubs; SON and Shimano hubs on the second. The hubs were supplied by their owners except for the SON dynamo, which I provided. The Rene Herse (formerly Compass) tires were provided as well, an option for wheelbuilding customers.

05 Apr 2019

Hex drive nipples

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Rear hex drive nipples were designed to handle increased torque but they also prevent builder’s marks on external nipple wrench flats. Some people like rear drive because the turning direction is intuitive — clockwise is tighter. Since the external interface exists just the same, you can forget the rear hex drive if you prefer (or treat it as a backup to save the day if a nipple cracks or rounds off).

What many hex nipples lack is a screwdriver slot. This is important for compatibility with depth-setting nipple drivers, the fastest way to preload nipples to the same depth of thread. That’s why SpokeService specially imported a Sapim hex nipple with this feature. The first photo below shows a collection of adjustable depth-setting drivers that interface with the slot. The black Problem Solvers tool with a 6000 bearing pressed on the end is my daily driver. (If your nipples don’t have a slot, you can start your nipples visually or build a universal tool — both inferior solutions.)

The Sapim hex drive is 5.5mm. It’s a balance between making the interface as large as possible while leaving room for tool clearance at the rim holes. Even so a thinwall tool is often necessary. I have three in my toolbox. My main tool is the Park SW-15, a 3-way that fits nicely in the hand and provides good leverage. Blue tape marks the 5.5mm end. The Park Tool SW-18 is a screwdriver design, which reaches into deeper rims and may fit better in race toolboxes. The Sapim factory tool is excellent quality and handles even deeper rims but may be too deep for everyday use.